Monday, July 15, 2013

Watching the Detective: Beware the Batman Ep1 "Hunted"

It always seems like a good time to be a Batman fan. Whether it’s the truest representation on film of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ dark, yet romantic Byronic hero in The Dark Knight trilogy, the unapologetic love letter to the Silver Age & Dick Sprang that was Batman: The Brave and the Bold, beating up thugs and super villains in the Arkham videogames, or consuming the final issues of Grant Morrison’s epic 6 year run concluding in Batman Incorported, which has been the freshest, healthiest, and most encompassing take on the character throughout his 70ish year history in my humble opinion, Batman is a force to be reckoned with in media. Yesterday, I got to see the latest addition to his long and celebrated animated history. With Beware the Batman I can fearlessly say, “Holy Fulfilled Expectations!” Hop into the Batmobile for the rundown after the break. Beware Bat-Spoilers!

The intro and main title card’s use of red trim on black never goes out of style and always makes me think of the Adam West Batmobile. At just a little over 20 seconds I hope we can get treated to an extended version of the bubblegum noir rock theme by the Dum Dum Girls in the near future. Batman the Animated Series, Batman Beyond, The Batman all clicked in at about one minute, while Batman: The Brave and the Bold got in at about 30 seconds. He can stop crime faster than he used to in his later years.

Opening shots of a bank building and a thief planning on escaping the hammers of justice is a respectful homage to BTAS. Beware the Batman’s developer, Glen Murakami worked on Batman in animation since 1991 on BTAS. 

Anthony Ruivivar as the voice of Batman seems traditionally tough and raspy, but can eloquently deal with bat jargon without coming off as a brute.

The thief tries to get Batman with a semi laser, yet realistic looking handgun. Creative choice or Tipper playing the same old song to Standards and Practices. Anyway, I don’t mind, since it’s noir enough for me.

Always the detective, even in combat. Calls to mind the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films, but with Batman narrating out loud the hopelessly outmatched hood’s options. Batman lies... a lot.

A detective, but the show doesn’t forget he’s also a superhero so throw the hood’s power gauntlet equipped bulked up partner at him.

First time to see Batman get a dislocated shoulder and then Mel Gibson it back into place. Hardcore for Saturday morning.

BTAS’s intro fight against two bank robbers on a rooftop involved batarangs and a similar flip and touchdown by Batman.

The Batsuit resembles the all black with gold utility belt from Batman Begins and mid 90s black jumper suit sans yellow belt and oval from the comics. Long ears this time around the animated block. I believe Neal Adams was the first to accentuate the ear length since 1940.

Shady CEO Simon Stagg on the run from an evil version of Frog and Toad, Professor Pig and Mister Toad. Arnold Lobel died the same year I was born. In the comics Stagg was in part responsible for Rex Mason becoming the deformed Metamorpho.

Prof Pig sounds like he’s at the feeding trough. Mister Toad’s vocals seem tinged with Russian. He belonged to the Russian "Circus of the Strange", under Pig’s command when they debuted in Grant Morrison Batman and Robin #1(2009). Presenting themselves as eco terrorists concerned with animal atrocities seems like the show’s people did their homework. Pig alludes to cruel animal cosmetic and scientific testing, such as barb wire mother experiments in Morrison’s run.

Establishing shot of Wayne Manor made me first think it might be Arkham Asylum. Similar architecture and e near or surrounded by sea. Plans for a Batboat in later episodes?

The mark of Michael Caine is certainly on this Alfred, a butler without a polished accent or mustache.

Safe to say this is early in his crime fighting career. I don’t think Bruce would enjoy his daily breakfast served with a baseball bat. A small part of Alfred must enjoy swinging a bat at his privileged American employer’s head and Van Gogh paintings. A little Joe Strummer mixed with Sean Connery. The clear class differences between the two aren’t explored enough in the comics and most other media.

Bruce Wayne and Batman, “Are they not the same?” Alfred asks rhetorically.

Bruce turning down team ups with 50-65 yr old James Bond? Roger Moore was no spring chicken in most of his films.

Sassy Alf rebuking the boss for sleeping in. “Bats are nocturnal creatures.” Batman Begins.

Prof Pig and Mr. Toad waxing Darwin, and equating civilized city with the law of the jungle and animal kingdom.

The Wind and theWillows. Both versions of Mister Toad seem to motor junkies.

Batman is a walking Wikipedia.

No sign the Giant Penny or robotic T-Rex trophies in the Batcave, which feels a little unimaginative, but is thankfully lacking in bat guano.

Michael Holt, Pig & Toad’s next intended industrialist victim in comics is genius inventor and one of the few open atheist superheroes, Mr. Terrific, who first appeared in 1997, and went on to become a member of JSA until the New 52.

The Batmobile has a formula racing/UFO thing going for it. Not as game changing as the Tumbler or Anton Furst design, but not stuck in retro.

The Pig & Toad jalopy car chase with the Batmobile takes a big cue from The Dark Knight’s Tumbler vs. Joker’s bazooka battle.

Beware the bat that hides behind a trash bin.

Katana seems a healthy addition of diversity into Bruce White’s world. I dig her yellow on red bike and helmet. Robin colors, but don’t expect to see her in a cape.

So Bruce brings his smartphone along when he’s Batman? Alf should maybe edit the contact name so no one can steal his phone and video call Bruce Wayne during nocturnal hours.

Keystone City is home to Jay Garrick, the original Flash, and a sister city to Central City, Barry Allen, the Silver Age’s Flash’s stomping grounds.

Prof Pig must love TheMost Dangerous Game. Nothing fazes Alf.

Did Bruce give the Batmobile AI?

Toad’s sonic burping power is great animation, and a fun touch to the character that hopefully makes its way into comics. His little jagged teeth remind me of Gollum.

Batman administers powerful enough pain relief via syringe to Alf’s twisted ankle. Daddy Tom Wayne was a doc.

The villains seem formidable, yet entertainingly colorful enough to keep the show from becoming too dark and gritty.

That 70s Show’s dad is the new Commissioner Gordon. I’m sure his relationship with Batman won’t be rocky.

Bruce’s learned lesson; Bruce Wayne=Batman. Any kid can tell you that. It’s just the over thinking adults that worry about that, or how Superman can fly. But it’s good to get it over with and done in the span of 22 minutes.

How much did Alf tell the young Tatsu about her new employer? Does she have ninja hearing power?

I'd like some more, thank you.
Tune in next time for Ep 2: Secrets.

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